Digital Marketing, Guest Posts, Mobile, Social Media Case Studies, Social Media Measurement, Integrated Marketing and Media, Social Media ROI

Driving Sales with Relevancy and Utility

Jeff Molander  Driving Sales with Relevancy and UtilityGuest post by Jeff Molander, professor of digital marketing at Loyola University’s School of Business, public speaker and author of a forthcoming book aimed at improving digital marketing results. Find him at jeffmolander.com

In this economy need is the new want. And exceptional businesses are realizing tangible, meaningful outcomes using social media & mobile marketing. Here’s how they’re doing it — in two words: Build utility.

Help 300x280 Driving Sales with Relevancy and Utility

Create Demand, Not Messages

Success with “social” marketing is becoming less about creating desire, positive sentiment or aspiration among customers. It’s more about demand creation.

Whether B2B or B2C, customers are buying based on what they need. Awareness, recall, positive sentiment, “engagement” and buzz aren’t enough to overcome this mercenary reality. And masses of Facebook fans or Twitter followers aren’t enough either. Buzzing or creating awareness we think generate incremental sales is worthless.

Success lies in discovering latent, hidden demand among customers and capturing it.

Ditch Experimentation and Plan Instead

The real social media success stories aren’t arising out of tactical experimentation with Twitter and Facebook. They’re being built from the ground up – strategically, with qualitative outcomes in mind. And they’re using tried-and-true marketing concepts to get the job done. These winning strategies key on usefulness and value-creation.

They’re strategic investments, not tactical expenses. They’re marketing-oriented but highly operational and often aimed at creating loyalty by improving customer experience.

The Secret Sauce Is Relevance

I’m noticing common themes among social media successes like BBVA bank. They focus on fostering customer behaviors that lead to profitability. Whole Foods does this similarly with its mobile application when it suggests meals/shopping lists based on health needs — and even suggests meals for ingredients you already have.

The secret sauce is being endlessly useful and hyper-relevant to customers. This means giving customers tools that make it easier for them to transact with you.

But beware: it’s easy to fall into the trap of novelty. Example: How many customers love iPhone applications? Many. But how many apps are truly needed by users and used as part of everyday life? Jay gives outstanding examples of how to discover what’s relevant.

It’s About Value Exchange

teatimer 300x277 Driving Sales with Relevancy and UtilityAdagio Teas has a fully customizable, “digital desktop tea timer” that helps tea connoisseurs brew a perfect cup each time, and mixes in a powerful, respectful marketing approach to all who use it.

Adagio gives tea drinkers a useful tool. In return, it gets access to intimate needs-focused information on the customer or prospect him/herself. Notice the qualitative outcomes for both parties?

It’s a value-exchange between parties. It’s balanced, and always gives your company the opportunity to foster more behaviors. How can your product snap effortlessly into customers’ lives in a profoundly useful, relevant way?

USAA Bank already knew that customers were using technology to make their “banking lives” more productive. It simply “turned up the volume” with social and mobile tools — allowing customers to take utility to new heights. They didn’t employ a secret formula or best practice from outside the company. They looked at their own scenario for answers.

Ask Better Questions

The question USAA asked itself was…

“If customers are already depositing checks by scanning/emailing them, might they be willing to snap a photo of the check with their mobile device similarly? Might that be valuable to them — and to us — in measurable (profitable) ways?”

Adagio went through the same process when it realized, “Our sophisticated customers drink tea, and perfect cups of tea are hard to create if you don’t have a reliable means to properly time steeping.”

So, as a next step ask yourself…

1) What does your business already do — that it could “digitally extend” to customers — based on what you already know customers are doing or willing to do? (and that creates measurable value for both parties)

2) What recent, successful promotion or existing valuable utility could be “digitally extended?” (to create more/new value)

I look forward to your answers.

(photo by D3 San Francisco

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  • susanbaier

    Wow, this is a great post, Jeff. I think you're right on the money regarding understanding audience needs and driving your services/tools etc. off of THAT, instead of trying to do it the other way around — by thinking about what you've got and trying to push it out to any fish who might bite.

    I'm curious as to how you see companies identifying the needs of their audiences? It seems to me that a lot of organizations sit around their conference rooms and use their own experience and understanding of their product to establish their customer segments, rather than letting their customers tell them why and how they use their product or service. Being relevant, it seems to me, requires that you identify those needs from the ground up — I'd appreciate hearing your experience in this area.

    Thanks for the great insights!

    • http://www.jeffmolander.com Jeff Molander

      Hi, Susan…
      In my experience large and small organizations have an equally difficult time identifying the needs of customers (using the Web) and acting on them… for various reasons. But there are a handful of things any organization can do — tomorrow — to identify customer need that you didn’t know about.

      As single example: Do you read your own product reviews? Doing so often leads to meaningful (profitable) discoveries that can be acted on.

      Example: An educational supply company that discovered customers using their lite diffraction “rainbow glasses” (grade school science teachers) also used them as wedding party favors (when the lights went out, glasses go on and psychedelic experiences begin w/ the DJ’s light systems). Result: A new market discovered. Consider: low-cost item ($1) providing high-impact in a new, LARGE and un-tapped market (weddings).

      But the challenge isn’t to do these things.

      Rather to organize yourself… your department… and/or your company in a way that makes this part of the daily routine. Right?

      Here’s a crazy one:
      An online hardware goods retailer that accidentally left their snow shovel AdWords (paid search) campaign running in spring months. They noticed the error when they cleared out their remnant inventory (for the first time ever) in Spring time. In fact they had INCREASING demand for shovels in N. America during sweltering heat in Summer time. They asked customers what was going on and they found out that there was a huge demand for this kind of shovel among gardeners! Again, new market — untapped for this single, unique product. Discovered based on how customers behaved — observed via the Web. But you’ve got to be paying attention… then take action.

      There are other examples of quick ways to assess latent need that are even more exciting. Maybe Jay will have me back again and I can share :)

  • http://www.jeffmolander.com jeff_molander

    Hi, Susan.
    In my experience large and small organizations have the same challenges — roadblocks or hurdles to clear when locating hidden/latent demand for products/services. Yes, many use things like focus groups, gut instinct (entrepreneurs are notorious for this!), etc. to create confidence that often overlooks the obvious.

    Example: A science supply store that wasn't reading its own product review page. They failed to discover how a top-selling $1.00 item was being used by their customers in new, creative ways that opened up a market — weddings. Customers reported using light diffraction glasses used to teach kids about light properties… at WEDDINGS as novelty items. When the DJ's disco lights went on it made for a psychedelic experience!

    Outcome: Identification of a potentially new, lucrative market. Low cost item (tough economy) for a large market segment (weddings) with high impact on customers (value perception).

    Action: This screams micro-site and a slightly marked-up price. I see testimonials, etc. etc.

    But the challenge is not to do these things.

    Rather, it is to organize yourself, your department and/or your company in a way that makes such discoveries happen — and 'get acted on' — as part of daily routine. Reliably. With self-starting intraprenurs doing them (a sense of responsibility & ownership). And with actionable outcomes.

    There are many other ways to discover latent intent among customers… and tap into their “hidden needs”. And maybe I can write more about them. But the real challenge IMHO is to create new habits that allow us to do this — quickly, easily and with purpose. Outcomes. Sales and leads! Thanks for your thoughts.

  • http://twitter.com/menciasg/status/16314149470 Gina Mencias

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  • http://twitter.com/mkanala/status/16314851497 Markku Kanala

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  • http://twitter.com/avigenuine/status/16323441734 Avanti

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  • http://twitter.com/avigenuine/status/16323441734 Avanti

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  • http://twitter.com/jebworks/status/16323805251 Joe Buhler

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  • http://twitter.com/morerocks/status/16324083402 morerocks

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    Driving Sales with Relevancy and Utility – http://bit.ly/b94lWc

  • http://twitter.com/mikedotchapin/status/16324086717 Michael Chapin

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  • http://twitter.com/bizchickblogs/status/16325464487 Tia Peterson

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  • http://twitter.com/joebertl/status/16326698111 Martin Schobert

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  • http://twitter.com/patrickboegel/status/16328903798 patrickboegel

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  • http://twitter.com/salescooke/status/16335362332 salescooke

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  • http://twitter.com/salescooke/status/16335362332 salescooke

    Driving Sales with Relevancy and Utility http://ow.ly/1Zee7 "Create Demand, Not Messages" and "The Secret Sauce Is Relevance" great points!

  • http://twitter.com/salescooke/status/16335362332 salescooke

    Driving Sales with Relevancy and Utility http://ow.ly/1Zee7 "Create Demand, Not Messages" and "The Secret Sauce Is Relevance" great points!

  • http://twitter.com/rhtweeting/status/16336750907 Rachel Hancock

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  • http://twitter.com/subers/status/16338767096 subers

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  • http://twitter.com/mschechter/status/16359861548 mschechter

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  • http://twitter.com/mschechter/status/16359861548 mschechter

    “What does your business do that it could “digitally extend” to customers” http://instapaper.com/zB1zemfK (great post on @jaybaer's blog)

  • iancleary

    I agree that your focus should be on demand. Some people say to me that social media is not measurable, maybe the waffly stuff is not measurable but if you track if somebody clicks on a special offer in facebook and comes back and buys your product then you know that you are getting revenue from facebook.

    However, awareness is important. When I'm looking to buy something I immediately think of people in my network. If they are not part of the network they are not under consideration. I don't consider people that are in my network that send far too many useless tweets and updates (e.g. 'good morning' every morning and inspirational quotes from a list). I do, however, really want to do business with the people that are providing me some value. I may not do business now but they are the people on my list.

    Enjoyable post. If you ever fancy doing a guest one on an Irish blog to spread the word let me know!

    Ian

    • Guest

      Hi, Ian…
      While I agree with your overall point (the Web is endlessly measurable) I must suggest that you consider that attribution of social media (to outcomes) is fully OUT OF CONTROL at this time. This week we are being treated to another breathtakingly ignorant “research” report. Of course, sponsored by a company that GETS PAID to create demand for social media. http://budurl.com/tcrj

      Many in the business are quick to look past things like obvious conflict of interest to celebrate social media — rather mindlessly and in defiance of common sense logic. Thankfully those in comments at the above link are quickly pointing this out. There’s hope!

      So, sorry… you touched a hot-button issue for me, personally. But your point is well taken and appreciated. I just want to chime in on the attribution issue.

      And, yes, much as I enjoy slighting “branding” (I believe it’s most commonly used as an excuse to not creating demand) there remains value in creating awareness. I’m forced to agree. This, however, is not (in my humble opinion) the “big opportunity” that the Web (and its social media) provides us with. I believe it to be demand creation — sales trump preference. But awareness comes first, naturally.

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  • http://twitter.com/hacool/status/16379304638 hacool

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  • http://twitter.com/johnfoleyjr/status/16381245339 johnfoleyjr

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  • http://twitter.com/socialmediafltr/status/16381840619 socialmediafltr

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  • http://twitter.com/mzayfert/status/16392405532 mzayfert

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  • http://www.jeffmolander.com jeff_molander

    Hi, Ian…
    While I agree with your overall point (the Web is endlessly measurable) I'll ask that you consider that attribution of social media (associating it with outcomes) is fully OUT OF CONTROL at this time.

    This week we are being treated to another breathtakingly ignorant “research” report. Of course, sponsored by a company that GETS PAID to create demand for social media. http://budurl.com/tcrj

    Many in the business are quick to look past things like obvious conflict of interest to celebrate social media — rather mindlessly and in defiance of common sense logic. Thankfully those in comments at the above link are quickly pointing this out. There's hope!

    So, sorry… you touched a hot-button issue for me, personally. But your point is well taken and appreciated. I just want to chime in on the attribution issue.

    And, yes, much as I enjoy slighting “branding” (I believe it's most commonly used as an excuse to not creating demand) there remains value in creating awareness. I'm forced to agree. This, however, is not (in my humble opinion) the “big opportunity” that the Web (and its social media) provides us with. I believe it to be demand creation — sales trump preference. But awareness comes first, naturally.

  • http://twitter.com/jodimaas/status/16426844836 Jodi Mallow Maas

    Driving #Sales with Relevancy and Utility http://bit.ly/9OMuU8

  • http://twitter.com/btdirectories/status/16450949637 BTCustomerstreet

    http://is.gd/cSYLv – Driving Sales with Relevancy and Utility #BTCustomerstreet

  • http://twitter.com/kristiinameme/status/16454200459 Kristiina Pääkkönen

    Millainen sisältö innostaa sinua? Miten tuotat lisäarvoa seuraajillesi? Millainen on hyvä tiiseri? #somesi http://bit.ly/barSCL #tv0

  • http://twitter.com/kristiinameme/status/16454200459 Kristiina Pääkkönen

    Millainen sisältö innostaa sinua? Miten tuotat lisäarvoa seuraajillesi? Millainen on hyvä tiiseri? #somesi http://bit.ly/barSCL #tv0

  • http://twitter.com/kristiinameme/status/16454200459 Kristiina Pääkkönen

    Millainen sisältö innostaa sinua? Miten tuotat lisäarvoa seuraajillesi? Millainen on hyvä tiiseri? #somesi http://bit.ly/barSCL #tv0

  • http://twitter.com/kristiinameme/status/16454200459 Kristiina Pääkkönen

    Millainen sisältö innostaa sinua? Miten tuotat lisäarvoa seuraajillesi? Millainen on hyvä tiiseri? #somesi http://bit.ly/barSCL #tv0

  • http://twitter.com/kristiinameme/status/16454200459 Kristiina Pääkkönen

    Millainen sisältö innostaa sinua? Miten tuotat lisäarvoa seuraajillesi? Millainen on hyvä tiiseri? #somesi http://bit.ly/barSCL #tv0

  • http://twitter.com/kristiinameme/status/16454200459 Kristiina Pääkkönen

    Millainen sisältö innostaa sinua? Miten tuotat lisäarvoa seuraajillesi? Millainen on hyvä tiiseri? #somesi http://bit.ly/barSCL #tv0

  • http://twitter.com/kristiinameme/status/16454200459 Kristiina Pääkkönen

    Millainen sisältö innostaa sinua? Miten tuotat lisäarvoa seuraajillesi? Millainen on hyvä tiiseri? #somesi http://bit.ly/barSCL #tv0

  • http://twitter.com/blurmarketing/status/16462028509 blur Marketing

    Driving Sales with Relevancy and Utility http://ow.ly/209pd

  • http://twitter.com/foundora/status/16690281017 Foundora

    Driving #Sales with Relevancy and Utility – http://ow.ly/214jW by @jeffreymolander via @jaybaer

  • http://twitter.com/2adproinkzoo/status/16737040536 Inkzoo

    No One Really Cares About Your Products: http://bit.ly/cNl0NV Watch your Social Media

  • http://twitter.com/2adproinkzoo/status/16737040536 Inkzoo

    No One Really Cares About Your Products: http://bit.ly/cNl0NV Watch your Social Media

  • http://twitter.com/tcreativo/status/16757091815 Territorio creativo

    La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/tcreativo/status/16757091815 Territorio creativo

    La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/tcreativo/status/16757091815 Territorio creativo

    La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/latrinchera/status/16757143062 Fernando Ã*lvarez

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/latrinchera/status/16757143062 Fernando Ã*lvarez

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/latrinchera/status/16757143062 Fernando Ã*lvarez

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/smm_ia/status/16757206575 InternetAdvantage SM

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/smm_ia/status/16757206575 InternetAdvantage SM

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/smm_ia/status/16757206575 InternetAdvantage SM

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/javibarrio/status/16757208755 Javier Barrio

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/javibarrio/status/16757208755 Javier Barrio

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/javibarrio/status/16757208755 Javier Barrio

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/gemagarrido/status/16757262744 Gema Garrido

    @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/gemagarrido/status/16757262744 Gema Garrido

    @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/gemagarrido/status/16757262744 Gema Garrido

    @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/jaime_estevez/status/16757357436 jaime estévez

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/campusformacion/status/16757406733 Campus Formacion

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/quintusinnova/status/16757530640 Carlos de Miguel

    Secreta?! RT @tcreativo La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/smcomunicacion/status/16758839010 Comunica SocialMedia

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/luz_martin/status/16758919791 Luz Martin

    RT @SMComunicacion: RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/fjsalcedo/status/16759106866 Francisco J. Salcedo

    RT @gemagarrido: @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/sofiabrigham/status/16762450782 Sofia Brigham

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/frankcooli/status/16763124322 Francisco Urdaneta

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/frankcooli/status/16763124322 Francisco Urdaneta

    RT @tcreativo: La incidencia del #SocialMedia en las ventas http://bit.ly/alyBpd La salsa secreta es la relevancia #SMM

  • http://twitter.com/btdirectories/status/17192691080 BTCustomerstreet

    http://bit.ly/aPTXKy – Driving Sales with Relevancy and Utility #BTCustomerstreet

  • http://www.planetwebfoot.com Social Networking Software

    I read a great article the other day about mastering custom social networking software as a way to achieve the soft sell. It's a new way to use social media from a sales standpoint that is being overlooked. By offering relevant industry information and quality posts you become a trusted source and sales will naturally follow.

  • http://twitter.com/danavan/status/18113684635 Dana VanDen Heuvel

    Driving Sales with Relevancy and Utility http://dlvr.it/2SPW4

  • http://twitter.com/leeodden/status/18115868680 Lee Odden

    Reading RT @danavan: Driving Sales with Relevancy and Utility http://dlvr.it/2SPW4

  • http://twitter.com/ioninteractive/status/18116170487 ion interactive

    RT @leeodden Reading RT @danavan: Driving Sales with Relevancy and Utility http://dlvr.it/2SPW4

  • http://twitter.com/katnelsonreid/status/18143366068 Kat Nelson-Reid

    "Driving Sales with Relevancy and Utility" http://bit.ly/9kZgpN

  • http://twitter.com/sze_lee/status/18434855334 Sze Lee

    Driving #Sales with #Relevancy and #Utility. http://ow.ly/2asMc #marketing #online #socialmedia

  • letstalkandchat

    If you’re looking for webinar software, then check out Evergreen Business System. Its perfect for marketers and let’s you automate the scheduling of your webinars, build your list, and even follow up with your webinar registrants. If you’re going to buy Evergreen Business System, then you might as well get a free bonus! So check out http://www.mikelmurphy.com/evergreen-business-system-bonus-webinar-software/ and you’ll get a great bonus that tells you how to create a webinar, what is a webinar, and a blueprint for making a successful one. None of the other people offering bonuses are offering this. Hurry in case the guy (some dude that worked on Lord of the RIngs) offering the bonus decides to pull it down.